The Department of Pediatrics at the UConn Health Center and Connecticut Children’s Medical Center is pleased to announce this year’s lineup for the Pediatric Translational Research Seminar Series. A new speaker is scheduled for each month from mid September – May during the academic year. The Seminars are held on Friday’s from 2:00-3:00 PM in the Low Learning Center and will be video conferenced to the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center campus conference room C/D in Hartford. All staff are invited to attend. Refreshments will be provided at the UConn Health Center & Connecticut Children’s.
Additionally, the talks will be simulcast on the web live and also available on-demand at http://mediasite.uchc.edu/mediasite41/catalog.
Download a PDF of the Pediatric Translational Research Seminar schedule.
A message to the UConn Health Center community from Frank M. Torti
August 16, 2012
I am pleased to announce that the Health Center will submit a new application for a National Institutes of Health Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) grant in January, 2013. The principal investigator for the grant will be Dr. Cato T. Laurencin, a nationally prominent clinician-scientist, CEO of the Connecticut Institute for Clinical and Translational Science (CICATS) and Director of the Center for Regenerative Engineering.
Our prior applications have placed us in a strong position to compete in this cycle of funding. In addition, many positive changes have taken place at the Health Center since our last submission in 2010, including the advent of Bioscience Connecticut and our engagement with the Jackson Laboratory.
If successful, the Health Center will join the national consortium of research institutions dedicated to the promotion of clinical and translational science. CTSA designation will lead to transformational changes in clinical and translational research throughout the Health Center, the University and the entire region.
Please join me in thanking Dr. Laurencin for leading this important venture.
Frank M. Torti
Executive Vice President for Health Affairs
Dean, UConn School of Medicine
Story Contributed By: Carolyn PenningtonDr. David Steffens, the incoming chair for the Department of Psychiatry, was the speaker for the Lawrence G. Raisz, M.D. Lectureship in Clinical and Translational Research Tuesday at the UConn Health Center. The lecture series is presented by the Connecticut Institute for Clinical and Translational Science (CICATS).
His lecture focused on “Late Life Depression: Advancing Understanding through Translational Neuroscience.” (view the presentation)
Steffens is currently the professor of psychiatry and medicine, vice chair for education and head of the Division of Geriatric Psychiatry at Duke University Medical Center. He will join the Health Center on July 2.
Steffens has a strong clinical and research interest in geriatric affective and cognitive disorders. His research includes a National Institutes of Mental Health-sponsored longitudinal study of depression in the elderly, neuroimaging and genetic studies of late-life depression, cognitive outcomes of depression, and treatment of geriatric depression, Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia.
Steffens has served as the chair for the Adult Psychopathology and Disorders of Aging Study Section at the Centers for Scientific Review at the National Institutes of Health. He is the current president-elect of the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry. Clinically, at Duke, he specialized in care for older depressed patients and for demented patients with psychiatric and behavioral problems.
CICATS is a partnership of regional hospitals, state agencies, and community health care organizations based on four principles: Collaboration, Innovation, Education, and Excellence. Its mission is to educate and nurture new scientists; increase the number of clinical and translational research projects and move discoveries into the community quickly and effectively; work collaboratively with regional stakeholders to eliminate health care disparities; and forge new partnerships between university researchers and the community.
The visiting lectureship was established in 2010 and is named after Dr. Lawrence G. Raisz, a long-serving leader in the Health Center community who was one of the preeminent experts on the management of osteoporosis and metabolic diseases in the world.
Story contributed by: Carolyn PenningtonA retreat to enhance interdisciplinary collaboration across campuses was held Tuesday in Storrs. 150 basic science and clinical faculty attended the event and helped set the stage for developing new ways to strengthen UConn’s research enterprise.
“The goal was to hear what others are doing with an eye toward generating new ideas and partnerships that will lead to discovery and grant support,” said Dr. Paul Skolnik, chairman of the Department of Medicine and one of the event organizers. “At first blush, some of the research interests would not seem related but on further investigation, we found new and important connections.”
Participants were drawn from 22 clinical and basic departments at the medical and dental schools in Farmington and from 19 departments and three schools in Storrs.
Prior to the meeting, faculty members were asked to submit brief profiles and department chairs and deans to provide overviews on the research in their units. Slides of the overview presentations will be made available to all participants in order to encourage interactions.
Dr. Paul Skolnik, professor and chairman of the Department of Medicine, speaks during the retreat. (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)
“His comments resonated with the group,” said Sandra Weller, chair of the Department of Molecular, Microbial and Structural Biology and retreat organizer. “He recommended taking smart risks and making strategic investments that promote team research and lower the barriers to innovative research.”
Bluestone told the group that at UCSF they have promoted an environment for excellent basic and clinical research that is the foundation for achieving a better understanding and improvement in human health and welfare. A development office allows faculty to better take advantage of complex funding opportunities and team building. A website provides “one stop shopping” to promote clinical research. UCSF has also promoted public-private partnerships that have allowed mutually beneficial interactions to flourish. They include small startups, as well as partnerships with large pharmaceutical companies.
Later in the day, four breakout sessions were held in which existing collaborations across schools and across campuses were identified and future collaborations were encouraged.
- Evolution and Ecology of Microbe-Host Interactions
Drs. Leo Lefrancois, Joerg Graf, and Justin Radolf
- New Strategies for Treatment of Infectious Diseases
Drs. Mark Peczuh and Paul Skolnik
- Personalized Medicine: The application of iPS cells and “omics” to diagnostics, drug research and treatment of infectious diseases
Drs. Theodore Rasmussen and David F. Grant
- Global and Health Technology
Drs. Deborah Cornman and Kevin Dieckhaus
Weller says the organizers plan on preparing a report summarizing the most frequently mentioned ideas from the breakout sessions.
“The breakout sessions gave participants a chance to interact and get down to the next level – to the project level,” said Skolnik. “Overall, new connections were made which hopefully will result in new collaborations and engender entrepreneurship.”
The retreat was sponsored by the Department of Medicine, the Department of Molecular, Microbial and Structural Biology, the UConn Office of Economic Development, and the Connecticut Institute for Clinical and Translational Science.
As appeared in UConn Today, May 17, 2012.
According to a special issue of National Geographic, a research breakthrough made by Dr. Cato T. Laurencin, director of the Institute for Regenerative Engineering at the UConn Health Center, may someday revolutionize recoveries for patients with tears of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) – one of the most common knee injuries. His work is among the“100 scientific discoveries that changed the world” featured in the magazine.
Laurencin’s research includes work on a new approach to ACL regeneration that incorporates the use of a biocompatible and degradable synthetic braided scaffold that would be surgically implanted to create ligament tissue. The scaffold would stabilize the knee and facilitate unprecedented regeneration of ligament tissue.
“The burgeoning field of regenerative medicine seeks nothing less than to provide patients with replacement body parts,” the article states. It highlights that studies by Laurencin and his team have shown, “the promotion of new blood vessel and collagen growth within 12 weeks.”
“I am encouraged by the progress of our research and delighted with the recent recognition including the National Geographic special issue. It is an honor for the UConn Health Center, the University and particularly for our research team,” Laurencin said.
Throughout his career, Laurencin has followed a dual path in orthopaedic surgery and engineering. Along with tissue engineering, Laurencin’s research has also focused in biomaterials science, drug delivery systems, nanotechnology and stem cell science.
At the Health Center, Laurencin is also the chief executive officer of the Connecticut Institute for Clinical and Translational Science, and holds the Van Dusen Endowed Chair in Orthopaedic Surgery.
Portions of this post were contributed by Maureen McGuire and appeared in UConn Today.
Dr. Bruce Liang, director of the Calhoun Cardiology Center, and his team of researchers have identified a protein fragment that when detected in the blood can be a predictor of heart attack and heart failure. If successfully applied one day, the simple blood test could mean another way to diagnose and possibly treat heart problems. Learn more by viewing this NBC Connecticut video showing Dr. Liang discussing this promising finding.
The Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering (CASE) has announced the election of 39 new members, including four CICATS Members from the UConn Health Center. The new members are experts in science, engineering and technology and will be introduced at the Academy’s 37th annual meeting and dinner on May 31 at the University of Connecticut’s Rome Ballroom in Storrs.
The newly electred members are Jeffrey C. Hoch, professor in the Department of Molecular, Microbial, and Structural Biology, Marja Hurley, professor of Medicine and orthopaedic surgery, Mina Mina, professor of craniofacial sciences, and Paul Skolnik, professor and chairman of the Deparment of Medicine.
Election to the Academy is on the basis of scientific and engineering distinction achieved through significant contributions in theory or applications, as demonstrated by original published books and papers, patents, the pioneering of new and developing fields and innovative products, outstanding leadership of nationally recognized technical teams, and external professional awards in recognition of scientific and engineering excellence. New members are elected by current members based upon their accomplishments in science, engineering or technology. Membership is limited to 400 members who must live or work in Connecticut.
University of Connecticut President Susan Herbst today announced that Dr. Frank M. Torti, vice president for strategic programs, director of the Comprehensive Cancer Center and chair of the Department of Cancer Biology at Wake Forest University School of Medicine, will become the new vice president for health affairs at the UConn Health Center and the eighth dean of the UConn School of Medicine. Torti will hold a Board of Trustees professorship in the Department of Medicine. He will join the Health Center May 1.“Frank Torti is a brilliant researcher, physician, and teacher — a transformational leader who will make UConn one of the premier institutions of health care in the world,” President Herbst said.
“Dr. Torti brings to UConn capabilities beyond his personal academic excellence and long history of academic leadership,” President Herbst continued. “As the former principal deputy commissioner, chief scientist, and then acting commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Dr. Torti understands the landscape of drug and device development and the promise of personalized medicine like few others in this country. He is the right person at the right time for UConn and the state of Connecticut.”
Torti has been responsible for the scientific leadership of Wake Forest’s Comprehensive Cancer Center since 1993 and has more recently provided leadership to the Cancer Center’s clinical programs. He is a well-known physician and clinical investigator who has designed and executed clinical trials in urologic cancer that have been used throughout the world. He has been routinely selected by his peers in polls and in national magazines of “America’s top doctors” and “top cancer doctors.”
Torti’s selection follows a comprehensive national search that began in July, after Dr. Cato Laurencin stepped down as vice president of health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine.
Torti received his BA and MA degrees from Johns Hopkins University, his MD from Harvard Medical School (cum laude), and his MPH from the Harvard School of Public Health, where he trained in cancer epidemiology and nutrition. He was an intern and resident at the Beth Israel Hospital, Boston, a Harvard teaching hospital, and a fellow in medical oncology at Stanford University. While on the Stanford faculty, he served as executive officer of the Northern California Oncology Group and associate director of the Northern California Cancer Program, and was instrumental in the development and oversight of the data management functions and overall administration of that NCI-designated clinical cooperative group and its regional network in northern California.
Torti developed and is principal investigator on a training program in cancer biology that is funded by an NIH T32 grant. He has been continually funded by an NIH RO1 grant for his basic science research since his lab was established in 1988. He holds a MERIT award from the NIH, an honor bestowed on only 3 percent of all NIH grantees.
Torti’s wife, Suzy V. Torti, has been appointed to the position of professor in the UConn School of Medicine’s Department of Molecular, Microbial and Structural Biology, and the Center for Molecular Medicine. An accomplished cancer researcher, she is currently a tenured professor in the Department of Biochemistry at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine.
Portions of this story contributed by Chris DeFrancesco and appeared in UConn Today.
In honor of Black History Month, the career of Dr. Cato T. Laurencin, director of the Institute for Regenerative Engineering, the chief executive officer of the Connecticut Institute for Clinical and Translational Science and a nationally recognized mentor, was highlighted on FOX CT’s morning show on Feb. 14.
Dr. Laurencin was one of 23 prominent African American leaders among the Health Center’s faculty and staff whose passion and creativity contribute to the educational, research and clinical successes of our academic medical center. To see the list of individuals, view the February 17 UConn Today post.